If we could survive India together, we knew we could handle traveling the world. The idea was planted when our dear friend, Anand, broke the news he was leaving the US and moving back to India for his family. Anand offered an invitation and in true Woods fashion we took advantage of the opportunity booking flights a few months later. We wanted to experience life in India and planned for a solid month visit leaving December 20, 2013 and returning January 20, 2014. We had so many amazing experiences that the best place to start would be with the journey across the pond.
The flight from Chicago to Delhi, 1 plane for 18 hours, by far the longest in air and driest flights we have ever experienced. We were offered one alcoholic beverage of wine or beer the whole 18 hour trip. On the plus side, the bathrooms were the cleanest I have ever witnessed on a flight. Our journey took us from Minneapolis> Chicago> Delhi and finally to our end destination, Hyderabad.
I always heard money can buy you anything in India and our first experience of this was was when Anand picked us up from the airport in Hyderabad. Anand thought this would be a quick pickup so he parked outside the main doors. Our luggage was the last to arrive in baggage claim. As we pushed the cart out the door we found his car had the boot. We were told to find this guy who would bring us to another guy who probably could get it off in 1 or 2 hours. Anand instead offered the curb side helper 100 rupees to remove the boot and it was off in minutes.
When arriving at Anand’s apartment the building keeper and his wife were waiting for our arrival to perform a ceremony called Aarti, a welcoming of new guests. There are small lamps filled with oil placed on a metal tray. Each lamp has a wick that is light along with incense. The tray was rotated in a circular motion in front of us as a welcoming. The purpose of this is to ward off evil effect and harmful influences of the evil eye. We stood at the door entry and received prayers for our long journey. Upon entering the door, right foot first, I had my feet rubbed with turmeric paste by Pochamma, the building keepers wife. Turmeric is a great antiseptic and a natural antibiotic which helped my swollen ankles wonderfully. Traditionally, in India, women perform the household duties involving a large use of water for cleaning the house, washing clothes and cooking meals. In order to prevent bacterial and fungus infections turmeric paste is widely used on the feet and legs. It took about a week for the yellow coloring to fade on my glowing white feet.
The next day our jet-lag was intense. I could barely keep my eyes open while bouncing off the walls with excitement to see our surroundings and taste authentic Indian food.
India has distinct sounds that I will never forget. It’s loud with morning prayer, car horns, car backup alarms, roosters, rickshaws, bustling streets and people everywhere.